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5 Tips for Healthy Goal Setting

5 Tips for Healthy Goal SettingYou can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.
~ Maya Angelou

Goals: We all have them. Some are short-term, some are long-term and some are hard to put in a time frame. Whatever the situation, goals are important. They give us something to strive toward, and a reason to pat ourselves on the back when we’ve reached them.

We determine our goals based on experience and on what we want out of life. Some dream of getting married and having children. Some wish for an academic career or to own their own business. Some want to start a nonprofit organization, or travel, or simply live a healthier life.

No matter what our goals are, comparing them to others’ can cause us to have a difficult time focusing on our own needs. We are the author of the chapters in our own book of life. Carefully select the content of your chapters, as well as your co-author.

It is important to consider what you want to achieve or what will make you feel whole. It is not only possible to feel complete as a whole. There can be a sense of completeness in the parts that make up the whole, as well. For example, you may feel complete or accomplished in your career choice but yet still be working on your personal relationships or health. Remember that your definition of “complete,” “whole,” or “accomplished” can vary from others’.

How you choose to set about achieving your goals is an individual process as well. Some people like to set small, specific goals; accomplishing them brings a feeling of satisfaction. Setting and achieving smaller goals also can help from feeling overwhelmed. And if you are unsuccessful meeting a small goal, you have the opportunity to fine-tune. (It can be hard not to want to pitch a bigger goal out the window if you don’t fulfill it.) The best thing about goals is that, once you learn not to see them as being concrete, you are free to tweak them.

Below are some tips about setting and reaching goals:

  • Set small, appropriate goals.

    If you are unsure, seek advice or guidance from someone you trust, or get into counseling so that you can process.

  • Accept that failure can happen and that disappointments are a part of life.

    Don’t set yourself up for failure. This does not mean that you must accept failure, but accept that sometimes when we try at something we may not succeed the first time. Don’t give up!

  • Be realistic.

    Don’t set yourself up for failure. For example, if you have not been exercising, don’t expect to run a half marathon with only a couple weeks of running.

  • Understand and accept that your life’s path is not the same as that of the person next to you.

    You may share the same goals, but your means for getting there may be different. Work with what suits you. Remember that what makes you feel whole may work for someone else.

  • Ask for help.

    Sometimes we need to get rid of the Superman/Superwoman cape! Some things cannot be accomplished without help. Reach out to someone you trust and who supports you.

If nothing else, have faith and confidence in yourself. You can do it!

?What are some of your goals?
Do you need support in order to achieve them?


Target photo available from Shutterstock

5 Tips for Healthy Goal Setting

Karisse Callender, Ph.D., LPC, SAC

Dr. Karisse A Callender is an Assistant Professor, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Substance Abuse Counselor (SAC) who has worked in both outpatient and residential settings with adolescents, adults, couples, and families with presenting issues related to mental health, substance use, and trauma. Her research interests include trauma, addiction, clinical supervision, well-being, and single case research designs. She is also bridging the researcher-practitioner gap through her teaching, research, leadership, and service. Follow her on Twitter at @islanderjourney

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APA Reference
Callender, K. (2018). 5 Tips for Healthy Goal Setting. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 2, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 3 Mar 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.